Philip Hauge Abelson co-discoverer of neptunium element

Philip Hauge Abelson – co-discoverer of neptunium element

Article on Philip Hauge Abelson

Biography & contributions

Philip Hauge Abelson was American physical chemist born on April 27, 1913 – died on August 01, 2004. Abelson was the co discoverer of neptunium periodic table element and proposed the gas diffusion process for separating uranium-235 from uranium-238.

Abelson was got National Medal of Science in the year of 1987, American Medical Association's Scientific Achievement Award, Distinguished Civilian Service Medal and Waldo E. Smith Medal in the year of 1988, Public Welfare Medal in the year of 1992. The mineral abelsonite is named after Abelson. Abelson found amino acids in fossils, and he discovered fatty acids in rocks more than 1 billion years old. He estimated that based on his experiments alanine would be stable for billions of years.

Facts about neptunium

Neptunium is a actinide series synthetic transuranium radioactive rare earth metal with symbol Np, atomic number 93,atomic mass 237 g/mol, electron configuration [Rn] 5f4 6d1 7s2, density 19.38 g/cm3, melting point 639 °C, boiling point 4174°C. The element is named after the planet Neptune.

It is the densest of all the actinides and the fifth-densest of all naturally occurring elements. Neptunium has no biological role. It is not absorbed by the digestive tract. Neptunium is prepared by the reduction of NpF3 with barium or lithium vapor at about 1200 °C. Neptunium is fissionable, and could theoretically be used as fuel in a fast neutron reactor or a nuclear weapon. Neptunium-237 is the most mobile actinide in the deep geological repository environment.


Abelsonite is the only known crystalline geoporphyrin. Abelsonite is a nickel porphyrin mineral with formula C31H32N4Ni. It was discovered in 1969 and named after Philip H. Abelson.

Abelsonite is semitransparent and pink-purple, dark grayish purple, pale purplish red, or reddish brown in color. It is soluble in benzene and acetone and is insoluble in water, dilute hydrochloric acid, and dilute nitric acid.

Abelsonite occurs in association with albite, analcime, dolomite, mica, orthoclase, pyrite, and quartz. Abelsonite is a secondary mineral that formed in fractures, vugs, and bedding planes of oil shale.

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